Editor’s Note:

In legal spaces, academic discussions about social justice are often theoretical exercises divorced from the lived experiences of marginalized communities. This volume rejects the idea that academic discourse can be unmoored from action and inclusion. Instead, the articles within were thoughtfully compiled with the idea that the Law Journal for Social Justice must use our privilege and platform to center marginalized communities and spur action among legal practitioners, students, and professors. To this end, the articles within Volume XV combine academic analysis, diverse perspectives, and calls to action.

In “[Sir,] [T]his Isn’t Your ID . . . It Has an ‘F” on it.”—The Lack of Gender Inclusivity in the 19th Amendment and the Systematic Suppression of Trans* Voters, author Stephanie W. DiDomizio-Ray discusses the harmful impact of voter identification laws on trans* and gender-nonconforming people. DiDomizio-Ray concludes with an analysis of whether adopting gender neutral identification markers would ameliorate the discrimination and harassment that trans* and gender-nonconforming individuals face at the polls.

In The Intersection of Strategic Settlement Practice, Bad Precedent, and Bad Lawyering in Intersectional Discrimination Claims, author Katherine E. Miller analyzes intersectional discrimination employment claims and provides practical guidance for attorneys pleading such claims. Miller also urges the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to “publish charge and settlement statistics specific to intersectional and multiple bases claims” to decrease judicial hesitancy in this area.

In At the Intersection of Competing Social Values: Evaluating the Criminal Law Approach Addressing the Opioid Crisis, Bingzi Hu explores the tension between two competing public health concerns: the opioid overdose crisis and widespread chronic pain. Hu addresses current criminal legal approaches to these concerns and proposes solutions that balance both public health problems.

In Planting the Seeds of Justice: Developing Effective Incentives for Urban Gardening, LJSJ Articles Editor Isaac Kort-Meade advocates for city governments to expand the incentivization of community gardening. He proposes amendments to zoning codes that would facilitate community gardening as a way to promote food justice, racial justice, and environmental justice.

In Breaking the PATTERN: A Critique of the Department of Justice’s Newest Risk-Assessment Tool and its Use for Home Confinement Reviews During the COVID-19 Pandemic, author Abigail H. Mason critiques the Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risk and Needs (PATTERN) used by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for determining the risk of recidivism by people who are currently incarcerated. Mason calls for a rehabilitative approach to justice and more transparent information about PATTERN from the DOJ.

In Using Private Law as a Vehicle for Social Change: A Feminist Approach, author Professor Susan M. Chesler argues that private contract law can be used to create social change. Professor Chesler specifically posits feminist perspectives in contract drafting—such as employment agreements that protect against gendered and sexual violence or prenuptial agreements that account for gendered economic inequalities—as a way to drive this change.

In Collateral Consequences or Normative Values? Reentry Concerns and the Racial Hierarchy, author Victoria Hawley Crittenden explores the harm that collateral consequences—such as housing limitations and requirements to disclose criminal records to employers—create for people who have experienced incarceration, with a particular focus on how collateral consequences uphold White supremacy and racism. Hawley Crittenden proposes reforms such as elected parole boards, informing people experiencing incarceration of collateral consequences, automatic expungement and sealed records, and defunding prisons to reallocate funding to reentry support. 

In Harming, Not Healing: How Well-Intentioned COVID-19 Law Exploits the Most Vulnerable, author Kendra J. Muller evaluates the effects of COVID-19 emergency laws on people who are disabled, medically high-risk, and elderly. Muller argues that harmful consequences for people with disabilities can be prevented by incorporating their voices and needs into the lawmaking process.

LJSJ has also worked internally toward fostering action-oriented legal discourse. To this end, our Symposium was a virtual and in-person panel discussion titled Education & Access that was moderated by Professor Angela Banks and included Professor Thalia Gonazález, Professor Rachel F. Moran, Professor Kip M. Hustace, and practitioner Danny Adelman.

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and collectively experience accompanying academic, personal, and professional burnout, we are grateful for the continued work of LJSJ’s Board and Associate Editors. Your efforts to reshape the legal landscape in a way that recognizes the needs of historically marginalized groups and individuals, centers diversity and intersectionality, and encourages on-going learning is needed. Thank you for your work and your willingness to share your knowledge.

Kacie Fountain | Editor-in-Chief